An attempt was made to have an idea completion with children in the Khap Tola (hamlet), West Champaran where we were working. I distributed Sujh Bujh to the children before starting the idea competition and told them about the honey bee network and the ignite awards. They felt really happy looking at the ideas given by children from different parts of the country. The joy on their faces and smiles were encouraging. I was initially skeptical of how many children would gather, as caste is a dominant factor in these villages. However the response was overwhelming and around 30 kids from all corners of the tola came in. The maximum participation was from the kids from Harijan Tola. The gathering was in the Rajput Tola, an upper caste hamlet.
Even though the children didn’t understand much of idea completion, they made some sketches, wrote their names and a few wrote some problems they had seen in their village. For instance one kid wrote about their belongings getting stolen from schools and houses. Another kid wrote about the drinking water problem in the village. This I think came because of the village meetings we had in the past few days. One kid showed concern about wells not being used anymore and he said that water from well is much sweeter to drink compared to hand pumps which smells like kerosene oil sometimes. This is due to the presence of iron, we told them. Another kid wrote that old people have to cycle long distances in dust on embankments. I explained them how kids like them are full of ideas and creativity. There was one set of group, mainly girls who were sketching flowers and writing their names on the sheet of paper. Since some of the children were too small to write or draw anything, this group used to draw and write on their behalf. The team bonding in this group was quite impressive. I felt really overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of these children. The happiness on their faces showed how children are deprived of such platforms. This exercise made me feel how far flung areas of the country are still left out of the mainstream and given an opportunity, these kids can shine like others. Many of the children, especially girls start working at an early age and drop out of schools. The areas are really backward and people have to fight for their livelihoods every day. Electricity has still not reached in these villages. Hence, making honey bee network reach to these areas will be an important development for the children. The work of the Honey Bee Network with children makes me think that no other platform has the potential to reach out to these areas than this. I plan to set up a small library in that village in the near future. Since we have done quite a lot of intervention in this village, I feel doing this for the children will be important. Maybe somewhere down the line, we can plan a shodhyatra in this area.
– Siddharth Bhatia